He’s looking for a house with three bedrooms and a larger lot. Despite more than nine months of slipping sales in Toronto, prices have remained steady and Mr. Hrkac says he is not tempted to wait for a possible steeper decline.
“I’m definitely not interested in sitting out for very long,” he says. “I really don’t see prices dropping.”
Noam Muscovitch knows all about the angst of buyers. The agent with Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. found himself sitting outside a mid-century bungalow last week when he was competing on behalf of his clients with 10 other agents.
On a lot with 78 feet of frontage, the house had an asking price of $1.088-million. Cars lined the street near York Mills and Leslie as the rivals all vied for the renovated bungalow with lots of light and air under cathedral ceilings.
“It was like a parking lot out there,” says Mr. Muscovitch. “It was kind of ridiculous.”
He had registered a bid on behalf of his clients early on the offer date because he had to be on the road for much of the day. At the time, one competing offer was already in place.
He says some bidders register early on in order to deter others.
“A lot of people don’t want to get into a multiple offer situation.”
When he checked in just before 8 p.m., he found out that the number had gone up to five.
With every additional offer, his clients became more jittery, he recalls.
In all, 11 groups ended up vying for the house. Later that night, each party was given a chance to improve their offer in a second round of bidding and the number dropped down to nine.
Mr. Muscovitch’s clients were a couple engaged to be married. They loved the house and tried to think of some creative ways to increase their chances of winning the competition. Mr. Muscovitch advised them to be very flexible about going along with the seller’s schedule. He let the seller know that the pair had no plans to demolish it as had been the fate of so many others in the area.
He also employed the delicate strategy of pointing out to the sellers that his buyers had done their research on the house and were knowledgeable about possible defects. Homeowners sometimes worry that a deal will fall through later on if buyers get cold feet.
“We understand any issues. We’re aware and we’re okay with them – and that’s good for you,” he says of his message to the sellers.
At the same time, his clients wanted the homeowners to know they loved the house the way it was.
“You’re not trying to offend them, that’s for sure.”
All the while, he was making frequent calls to the couple, who had brought one of their mothers along to a nearby McDonald’s “because you can stay there for a long period of time,” says the agent.
“You need to have them close in case there are changes.”
About midnight, Mr. Muscovitch began to have a good feeling when he began to see the red lights of one car after another reversing back down the street.
“Then finally I got the call,” he says.
In the end, he thinks their strategy beat all of the others partly because the buyers made an emotional connection with the sellers.
“I think they responded to the fact that the young couple didn’t want to do anything to the house.”
Micro-hoods: Where to find affordable homes in Toronto
Young buyers flocking to Little India
The South Asian flavour of Toronto’s Little India is in transition.
The area centred on Gerrard Street East is attracting young buyers who have been priced out of the phenomenally popular Leslieville. Meanwhile, the traditional immigrant Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan communities have been steadily migrating to Brampton, Mississauga, Scarborough and other communities outside the city centre. Many business owners moved away decades ago but even the Gerrard Bazaar’s sari shops and restaurants are often shuttered these days.
Other entrepreneurs are renovating their premises in order to better compete with the suburban shopping centres.
At the same time, the relatively affordable older semis and new townhouse projects draw more first-time buyers and young urbanites to the area.
Now new projects are rebranding the area with such banners as East Village Leslieville and Leslieville Lofthouses. The City of Toronto is refurbishing Greenwood Park.
As the area is increasingly revitalized, property values are on the rise.
Editor's Note: In the original print and online editions of this story Mr. Noam Muscovitch's name was spelled incorrectly. This version has been corrected.